For our 2018 conferences, the Library Publishing Coalition and the Association of University Presses collaborated on a Cross-Pollination Registration Waiver Program. The program sent two AUPresses members to the Library Publishing Forum and two LPC members to the AUPresses Annual Meeting. Each of the recipients was asked to write a reflection on their experience and on opportunities for libraries and presses to work together towards our shared goals. This post is by Jana Faust, University of Nebraska Press. Read the whole series.
“A couple of things that stood out to me at the conference were individuals’ passion for their work and their commitment to a set of values that would create a culture of inclusivity.”
The University of Nebraska Press and University of Nebraska–Lincoln Libraries often collaborate but they continue to be separate units of the university. It is most common for UNP to work with the UNL Libraries’ Center for Digital Research in the Humanities (specific examples include the Willa Cather Archive and The Journals of the Lewis & Clark Expedition Online), Archives and Special Collections, and the institutional repository.
I went into the Library Publishing Forum not knowing very much about the more recent models of library publishing programs except that it has become more common for institutions to merge what had traditionally been two separate programs. I hoped to learn more about the purpose of these new models and how they differ from more traditional publishing. One thing that became apparent immediately is that there is as much variety in library publishing (in size, output, and workflow) as there is in university press publishing.
A couple of things that stood out to me at the conference were individuals’ passion for their work and their commitment to a set of values that would create a culture of inclusivity. In order to create the desired culture, many of these programs started by determining their values and then used those values as the foundation of their publishing programs. I would have expected the planning stage to focus more on practical issues: what types of content or subject areas to publish, how to handle peer review, and so forth. Instead, they often first documented their commitment to a culture of diversity, inclusivity, accessibility, and equity. I found the keynote by Cathy Kudlick, professor of history and director of the Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability at San Francisco State University, particularly enlightening. She urged attendees to “see disability as a tool for thinking differently about the world,” to picture pirates as disability action figures, and to go beyond compliance. In addition, she described people with disabilities as being the world’s best problem solvers.
Open access was also typically listed as a requirement in pursuit of that culture. While many university presses have been experimenting with open access (with more and more actively involved in it—for example, the University of Minnesota Press’s Manifold project was well-represented at the meeting), it is not the norm for a press to require it. Given that presses are usually required to be self-sustaining and libraries are not, it makes sense that libraries would have the interest and ability to implement an open access program ahead of the university presses.
One of the things that surprised me was the relative lack of sessions focusing on editorial, design, and production. Many of the programs provide a means of creating content and/or providing access to content, but there is little gatekeeping. Library publishers see the creation and dissemination of content as part of the library’s mission to serve its community (whether that means the university, the town/city, or the state), typically without the need to be directly involved with the content in the same hands-on way as press publishers. Alternately, we at university presses typically rely on experienced acquisitions editors to build relationships with scholars and curate our list of titles each season, peer reviewers to require improvements or approve projects as-is, copyeditors and production editors to assure quality and consistency, and designers and typesetters to put it all together in an attractive package. It is expensive and time-consuming, but it is at the core of what we do.
UNP has something in common with many library publishers in that our “Journals” department is actually the “Journals: Management and Publishing Solutions” department. In addition to publishing scholarly journals and managing scholarly societies, it offers à la carte or comprehensive publishing services to a number of clients, an example of which is its ongoing arrangement to produce the educational publications of Nebraska Extension.
Libraries and publishers have always been part of the same larger books ecosystem. Our relationships to each other and to our institutions continue to evolve, and we continue to have much to learn from each other. I am grateful to have been a recipient of the cross-pollination grant and hope to become a regular attendee of the Library Publishing Forum.
Manager, Digital Assets & IT
University of Nebraska Press